A total of 1,521 Slovenian workers from all sub fields of the cultural and creative sectors responded to our invitation between 6 April and 3 May 2020 and took the survey about whether the COVID-19 crisis had had any impact on their work and life, and if so, what kind of impact. The survey targeted all workers, regardless of their legal status: students, contract workers, the self-employed in culture, private entrepreneurs, those employed in companies, private institutions, associations and cooperatives, and those employed in public institutions.
This is the first comprehensive survey on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on workers in the cultural and creative sectors in Slovenia. The results are hardly encouraging.
1. 31.5 % of workers were forced to stay at home with no work during self-isolation. Those most affected were filmmakers and audio/video artists, performance artists, musicians, photographers and creative tourism workers.
2. 77 % of all respondents reported having experienced loss of business in March, April and May. The average amount of business losses in March was 2,945 euros and projected losses for April and May averaged 5,983 euros.
3. 73.4 % of all workers who continued working reported lower or much lower work efficiency. The main reasons for the decline in productivity were: distress due to COVID-19, slower work processes online, child care and education, various household chores and blurred lines between work and free time.
4. The workers took the survey before, during and after the adoption of the first anti-Corona package, with 63.4 % of all respondents estimating the government measures for the cultural and creative sectors as insufficient. The following solutions were therefore proposed: cutting red tape in aid application procedures, UBI for everyone, giving priority to those most in need, helping those who will feel the late effects of the crisis, and greater government and EU incentives for both sectors.
5. Workers expect business to decrease by an average of 44 % in all subfields. The effects of the crisis are believed to be more long-term and numerous compared to the financial crisis a decade ago. Finding clients will supposedly be even more difficult than before, and they will pay less for the work performed and often be late with payments.
6. The most disconcerting are the results showing that more than a third of respondents already had a net monthly income of 500 to 1000 euros before the crisis. Merely 18.4 % of respondents made over 1500 euros. The average worker had only 5.6 months-worth of savings, which would last them until mid-August 2020. Workers with the lowest income were visual artists, landscape architects, performance artists and creative craft workers, while workers
with the highest income were software developers and videogame developers.
7. Even though it is often said that the cultural and creative sectors are highly dependent on public funding, self-assessed sources of earning for 2019 showed that workers in all subsectors earned an average of 62 % of their income commercially, i.e. through the sale of goods and services to companies or end consumers. Calls for applications and state, local and EU funding accounted for an average of only 10 % of self-assessed sources of earning for 2019. The highest percentage of public funding was in intermedia art, though still a mere 25 %.
Results show that, even before the crisis, Slovenian artists led modest lives, mostly living hand to mouth. A two-month standstill in cultural events which, despite the epidemic being over (and the aid being cut off), still cannot return to normal, thus poses a serious threat, as many people will find themselves – and some already have – in a difficult financial situation.
Prevention is cheaper than cure. It is therefore extremely important that every effort be made to save jobs in the cultural and creative sectors instead of having to rehabilitate numerous artists as unemployed for considerably more money for not acting soon enough.
Instead of reducing government and local funding, incentives should be increased, particularly given the fact that they currently account for an extremely low percentage of sources of earning. Existing application projects should be adapted to the new conditions. Self-assessment data shows that the absorption of EU funds amounted to only 2 %; it is therefore important to establish support services to assist cultural and creative workers in overcoming the bureaucratic obstacles that have clearly proven to be insurmountable. Thus, short-term priorities are government and local incentives and increased outsourcing of work by public institutions, and the long-term priority is a significant increase in EU funding.
Action should be taken before the summer.